NordVPN's blistering NordLynx speeds, top-of-the-range unblocking results, and audited no-logging policy make for an appealing service. There are a few small app usability issues and renewal prices are more expensive than most, but overall, this is a high-quality VPN with plenty to offer.
The fastest VPN in our tests
Plenty of independent audits
Unblocked every streaming service we tested
Effective kill switch
Speedy live chat support
Built-in security suite with an antivirus, password manager, and more
Linux app is command line only
Some app interface and usability issues
Above-average renewal prices
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There's a lot of competition out there, and with so many NordVPN reviews to pick from, it leaves many wondering whether it's the best VPN. Thankfully, our experts regularly conduct extensive reviews of NordVPN—complete with a full range of performance tests, a roundup of the latest news, and an extensive FAQ that addresses the most common queries about the apps and service.
With so many features to dive into, there's plenty for us to pick over. Will NordVPN finally claim ExpressVPN's throne of the best VPN service, or will it once again be pipped to the post?
Let's kick off with a quick TL;DR summary of the review for those who don't want the in-depth stuff, and just want to know whether NordVPN is worth buying, and how it compares to rival VPNs, in a nutshell.
NordVPN: 2-minute review
NordVPN is strong on the VPN basics, with lots of locations worldwide, apps for just about everything, and the protection of a no-strings 30-day money-back guarantee if you decide to sign up.
NordVPN's apps have one or two areas where they're not quite as easy to use as we'd like, but even VPN newbies will feel at home in a few minutes. They've loads of features for more experienced users to explore, and if there's anything you can't figure out, a quality support site and speedy live chat are on hand to point you in the right direction.
Performance levels are excellent. NordVPN is one of the fastest services we've reviewed and currently tops our list for the fastest VPN. As for Netflix and other streaming services, Nord unblocked every service in every region we tested, making it great for streaming.
NordVPN more than delivers on the privacy front, in our experience, but you don't have to take our word for it. The company has gone through multiple independent security and logging audits to confirm that it's handling your data properly.
NordVPN is a high-quality jack-of-all-trades VPN. It does everything to a good standard, and while some rivals may offer better performance in specific departments, if you want everything doing well and a consistent service above all, NordVPN won't steer you wrong.
Keen to find out more about NordVPN? Then read on to see what our experts uncovered in their analysis of NordVPN.
NordVPN: latest news and updates
It hasn't been that long since we last looked at NordVPN, but the company recently made some big announcements in several key areas.
In early 2023, NordVPN unveiled the results of two new independent audits. Deloitte verified its no logging policy, and a huge Cure53 project looked into its servers, infrastructure, desktop apps, website, and much more.
Couple that with making Meshnet free for all users, you can now link up to 60 devices anywhere in the world, into a single secure network. This makes it much easier to securely share files between your devices, and there are no file size limits. Even if you don't have a NordVPN plan, you can use Meshnet to build your own secure network for zero cost.
There's more positive transparency news in the open-sourcing of NordVPN's Linux app, and libraries covering Meshnet's file-sharing and various networking tools. Anyone can now check out the code and make sure it's only doing what it says on the tin.
As we've come to expect with NordVPN, there were notable improvements across the apps. For example on iOS, there are city-level locations to pick from, and additional language support for Italian, Korean, and Cantonese-speaking users.
Panama-registered NordVPN is a hugely popular VPN provider with more than 14 million customers around the globe. The company sells itself on features, and there are plenty to explore.
How many servers does NordVPN have?
The NordVPN network has 5,600+ servers in 85 locations across 59 countries.
We ran tests on several locations to confirm that their servers are physically located in the advertised countries, and it was good news all around. From Costa Rica to Estonia, UAE to Vietnam, every server we checked was in its promised location.
What platforms does NordVPN have apps for?
You get Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Android TV apps, a feature-packed (if command line) Linux offering, and tutorials to set up the service on many more platforms and device types.
How many devices can you use with NordVPN?
NordVPN boasts support for six simultaneous connections. That means you can set up NordVPN on as many devices as you like, but only six of them can be connected to the service at the same time. This is probably enough for most people, but if you have a lot of hardware to protect, IPVanish, Private Internet Access, Surfshark, and Windscribe have no set limits on connections or devices.
- Want to try NordVPN? Check out the website here
What security tools do you get with NordVPN?
NordVPN scores well on the VPN essentials, with OpenVPN and its own WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol providing strong encryption, a rock-solid kill switch, and DNS leak protection to help avoid data leaks.
Powerful extras include Double VPN and Onion support for extra security. There are P2P-optimized servers in most locations, and an audited no-logging policy gives strong reassurance that your internet activities won't be visible to anyone else.
NordVPN includes ad and tracker blocking, and its Threat Protection feature can scan some downloads for malware on Windows and Mac, even when you're not connected to the VPN. (Threat Protection isn't powerful enough to replace your regular antivirus - we'll explain why later - but it's a welcome extra.)
As discussed above, NordVPN's Meshnet allows you to create a secure encrypted network with up to 10 of your devices, and up to 50 others (as long as they’re also NordVPN users). This could allow you to share files, play network games, access other network devices, and more.
Meshnet won't be for everyone, but it's a very powerful addition to the NordVPN feature list and isn't something you'll find anywhere else.
If you're intimidated by this feature overload, or just run into some unexpected problems, NordVPN's 24/7 support teams are on-hand to point you in the right direction, via email or live chat.
NordVPN's prices are above average after the first term, and if you're not quite convinced that this is the VPN for you, a 30-day money-back guarantee gives you a risk-free route to sampling the service for yourself.
Got any further questions about the basics of NordVPN? Then see our FAQ at the end of this article (jump straight down to it using the link in the bar above).
NordVPN's Standard plan comes in three flavors. Monthly billed accounts are $12.99, and the annual plan cuts that to $4.99 per month, while opting for the two-year plan drops the price further to $3.49.
NordVPN's Plus plan adds NordPass password manager and data breach scanner (which raises an alert if your details are spotted on the dark web), for only marginally more at $4.49 per month over two years.
NordVPN's Complete plan also adds 1TB of encrypted cloud storage, and is priced at $5.49 a month on the two-year plan. The company has new offers all the time, but a more in-depth and up-to-the-minute explanation can be found in our dedicated NordVPN price and deals article.
Beware the small print, though. The one and two-year deals include an introductory discount, and both renew as a standard annual plan, which sees a major price hike to $8.29 per month. NordVPN doesn't exactly make this clear on the website, but you can find these and all the other renewal costs on its pricing page.
Is NordVPN good value for money?
On the face of it, yes, at least for the first term, but if you don't need all NordVPN's features, there's still money to be saved by going elsewhere. Private Internet Access' annual plan costs just $3.33 per month, for instance, and Ivacy's five-year plan is a featherweight $1 per month. (That’s $83.76 for the first two years of protection with NordVPN, and $60 for five years with Ivacy.)
Still, it's far from the most expensive VPN around, and we think NordVPN is fairly priced for what you get.
What methods can you use to pay for NordVPN?
There are plenty of payment options provided by NordVPN, with support for cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (via CoinPayments), AmazonPay, Google Pay, and more.
Does NordVPN have a free trial?
he company used to have a service-wide free trial, long ago, but unfortunately, it was dropped due to abuse.
New Android and iOS users get seven days of app usage for free, though. And if you sign up, NordVPN's 30-day money-back guarantee gives you more than enough time to get a feel for how the service performs.
You can also check out the latest NordVPN promo codes that are available to save more on the service.
Does NordVPN offer privacy?
The privacy value of all VPNs starts with the support for encryption technologies. NordVPN scores well here for its strong AES-256-GCM encryption, and supports perfect forward secrecy to regularly change keys (this time using 4096-bit Diffie-Hellman), ensuring that even if an attacker manages to penetrate one session, they'll be locked out of the next one.
Once you're connected, NordVPN uses its own private DNS to keep your internet browsing away from third parties. Its apps also include protection from DNS leaks, to make sure your online activities are safe.
NordVPN also offers a Double VPN system (on Windows, Mac, and Android) where your traffic goes to one VPN server, then is re-encrypted and sent to a second NordVPN server, before heading off to its destination. If you're looking for the maximum level of anonymity, this extra layer of protection makes it even more difficult for anyone to trace an internet action back to you.
If that's still not enough, NordVPN also supports Onion over VPN. This encrypts your traffic and routes it through a NordVPN server first, then directs it to the Tor network, where it passes through three randomly chosen Tor nodes before reaching its destination. This is just about as private as internet access gets, but there is a cost. Tor is slow at the best of times, and all this bouncing around multiple servers will cut your speeds even further.
NordVPN's logging policy
"Nord guarantees a strict no-logs policy for NordVPN Services, meaning that your internet activity... is not monitored, recorded, logged, stored or passed to any third party. We do not store connection time stamps, used bandwidth, traffic logs, IP addresses or browsing data."
That covers not only general logging of your internet activities, but also session logging details such as recording your incoming IP address when you connect to the service, and the IP you're allocated. (When other VPNs say, 'no logging', they often carry out some form of session logging, so it's good to see NordVPN rule it out).
How secure is NordVPN?
Impressively secure. NordVPN has something in its armory to further bolster your security, and that's a kill switch. A kill switch is in place to prevent any data leaks in case the VPN connection drops.
NordVPN stands out here for actually having two kill switches. A general internet kill switch blocks all net access when you're not connected to the VPN (this can easily be turned off if it's inconvenient), while an app kill switch closes your chosen applications if the connection goes down.
NordVPN says the service blocks DNS leaks, too, and our checks with DNS Leak Test, IPLeak, and other sites confirmed this. Our DNS address was always the same as our IP address, with no DNS, WebRTC or other leaks detected. So overall, security and privacy are tight. (For more details on services that deliver top-notch security, check out our roundup of the most secure VPN providers, where NordVPN ranks highly).
Can NordVPN back up these claims?
A VPN can say anything on its own website, but unlike most of the VPN competition, you don't have to take NordVPN's claims on trust. In November 2022 NordVPN hired top auditing company Deloitte to run an independent audit on its infrastructure and services, and to verify that its logging policy description is accurate.
This was an in-depth project, NordVPN explained: "It involved interviews with our employees, server configuration inspections, technical log inspections, and inspections of other servers in our infrastructure."
A January 2023 blog post reported Deloitte's conclusion that it "saw no signs that we in any way violated our no-logs promises."
That's good news, and a reassuring sign that NordVPN is properly looking after user privacy. And there is another plus here. While some VPNs still boast about a single audit they took five years ago, this is NordVPN's third audit for its no-logging policies alone (it's had more covering other areas of the service .) That's important because an old audit tells you very little about how a service works today. VPNs should be audited regularly for the results to be really useful.
Performance testing: How fast is NordVPN?
While privacy features are normally the top priority for a VPN, performance matters too. Uncrackable encryption isn't nearly as appealing if it reduces your internet speeds to a crawl, which is why we put all VPNs we review through some intensive performance tests.
Our procedure involves connecting to our nearest server from UK and US locations with 1Gbps connections, then running repeated checks using top benchmarking sites and apps from the likes of SpeedTest and Cloudflare. We perform the tests using the best two protocols, then repeat the full test run in morning and evening sessions.
NordVPN's own NordLynx protocol delivered spectacular download speeds of over 950 Mbps. That puts NordVPN equal first in our speed charts along with Surfshark, IPVanish, Hide.me, Norton, and Windscribe.
OpenVPN is much slower, but still a useful protocol if you’re setting up NordVPN on a router, or NordLynx fails to connect for some reason. We ran it through our tests and NordVPN managed a solid 240 Mbps.
We've seen faster (Mullvad reached over 500 Mbps with OpenVPN in its last tests), but that's more than enough for most situations. Even if you're installing NordVPN on your router, speeds of around 240 Mbps mean every family member could be watching their own Ultra HD stream, and there will still be room for browsing if you need it.
Can NordVPN unblock Netflix and other streaming sites?
The ability to access geo-blocked websites is a key advantage of any VPN service. NordVPN doesn't explicitly claim to unblock any particular website or service, but statements asserting that it allows you to "keep access to your favorite websites and entertainment content, and forget about censorship" sound good to us.
We first put this to the test by trying to access US-only Netflix content from the UK. It worked perfectly, getting us in with all three of our test servers.
Interested in other libraries? So are we, and NordVPN was just as successful with Netflix in Australia, Canada, Japan, and the UK.
Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus have been a challenge in some previous reviews, but not this time, and we managed to stream US-only content from three US servers.
Our good run continued in Australia, with NordVPN unblocking 9Now and 10 play. Would our final UK tests spoil the picture? Nope: it got us into BBC iPlayer, ITV and Channel 4, too, with a perfect 100% unblocking score.
Does NordVPN support torrents?
The short answer is yes, it does. They're not available in all locations, but NordVPN does provide hundreds of P2P-friendly servers in the US, UK, and many other locations around the globe. Wherever you are, there should be a suitable server nearby.
VPNs that only support P2P on some servers can be inconvenient to use, particularly if you connect to a non-P2P server, launch your torrent client, and find it doesn't work. NordVPN's Windows app has a P2P server list, though, where you can choose the country you need in the usual way, with no hassle at all.
To verify NordVPN's P2P support, we connected to three countries and tried downloading torrents. In each case, we connected and downloaded files as expected, with no performance or other issues.
Is there anything else that makes NordVPN a good choice for torrenting?
Along with its direct P2P support, NordVPN has a number of other features that could make it a smart choice for those using torrents. There's its strict no-logging policy (verified by audit), multiple layers of DNS and traffic leak protection, payment via Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and privacy extras including Double VPN and Onion over VPN.
Are other VPNs better than NordVPN for torrents?
NordVPN clearly offers a strong all-around package in terms of torrents, but there are some worthy alternatives around. Private Internet Access has great apps, supports payment via Bitcoin, and is a fraction of NordVPN's price. Mullvad has a strong privacy reputation and multiple independent audits, and you can open an account without providing any personal details (not even an email address). Check out our roundup of the best VPNs for torrenting for more information.
How easy is it to set up NordVPN apps?
You've signed up for NordVPN, you're in a hurry to get started, and NordVPN makes that surprisingly easy. The website directs you to the right app for your platform (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV) and installation is simple—the Windows app lets us log in quickly through our browser.
NordVPN's mobile apps also have a PIN-based login system. Choose "Get a one-time login code" instead of entering your password, and NordVPN sends a six-digit code to your registered email address. Enter this into the app and it'll log you in immediately.
That's just the start. Many Windows VPN apps install with key security features, such as the kill switch, turned off, and you won't even realize that unless you explore their settings (which may never happen, with some viewers). NordVPN's Windows app not only turns its key settings (kill switch, ad and tracker-blocking, and auto-connect) on by default, but on the first launch, it also shows you those settings and gives you the chance to change them. That's a great idea that keeps newbies secure, while also allowing experts to see and tweak their existing options.
No NordVPN app for your platform? No problem. An array of highly detailed tutorials explain how to manually set up the service on Chromebooks, Raspberry Pi, routers, NAS devices, and more.
Is NordVPN's Windows app good?
The NordVPN Windows app opens with its many locations displayed on a world map, now available in both dark and light modes. It may not show the locations you need by default, but you can click and drag to pan around, zoom in and out, or resize the window to get a better view.
The map updates automatically to suit your zoom level. Zoom right out and it shows a single icon for Europe with the number "40" (NordVPN's number of European locations). Click this, and the map automatically zooms to show a view of Europe, with icons for many countries. Click any country icon and the app connects you to the best server in that region.
If all that zooming and panning sounds like too much hassle, no problem. Hit the Quick Connect button in a panel top-left and the app automatically connects to your nearest location, with no further steps required.
Alternatively, tapping a down arrow displays a conventional location list. You can use this to access countries and cities, or NordVPN's specialty servers to handle certain tasks: P2P, Double VPN, Tor, dedicated IPs, and more. If you’re using the new Meshnet feature, then you can even connect to a specific device directly from the location list (your PC at home, while you’re away on a trip, for instance).
A built-in Search box allows you to ignore both the map and the lists. Just type CHI, say, and the app displays your matches: Chile, Chicago, and Chisinau (Moldova), and you can connect with a click.
The app doesn’t include the direct list of individual servers (that’s all 5,600+) any longer. That's fine for most people, but if you want to access specific servers (perhaps you’ve discovered that US server #8876 is the only one to unblock a particular site), you can still do that from the search box. Typing "United States #" displays the full list, or you can enter a number like #8876 to show that specific server.
A Recent section displays icons of the last five locations you’ve accessed, and again, you can reconnect with a click. The icons use country maps or server type graphics, which means they won’t always uniquely identify a location (connect to five US cities or five P2P-friendly locations, and the Recent section displays five American flags or five P2P icons, for instance). Hovering your mouse over each icon displays a tooltip with the country or city, so it’s not difficult to find what you need. Still, it’s less convenient than the previous text-based Recent list, or the Favorites lists you’ll often find with other apps.
Connection times are reasonable. The default NordLynx protocol typically got us connected in 2-3 seconds, and OpenVPN took around 8 seconds. ExpressVPN is a little faster at barely a second for Lightway, six seconds with OpenVPN, but you’re unlikely to notice much difference in real-world use.
The app keeps you informed of its connection status, and uses Windows desktop notifications to tell you when the VPN is turned on or off. It doesn’t display your VPN IP, but hovering your mouse cursor over the location flag displays the server name, IP address and ISP.
A Pause button allows you to effectively disconnect from the VPN for 5, 15, or 60 minutes. If you need to quickly use a website that doesn't work with the VPN, click "Pause", choose your preferred interval, and the client then disconnects. If you finish your task early, you can hit Resume to restore your connection at any time. But the value here is that if you forget, the app will automatically reconnect for you, reducing the chance that you accidentally leave yourself unprotected for long periods of time.
If all this seems a little too complicated, you can launch a mini version of the app by right-clicking the NordVPN system tray icon. This includes your Recent Connections list (with text city names) and a Quick Connect button, and if that’s enough, you may never have to bother with the full app.
NordVPN is generally very reliable, but if you do run into difficulties, there’s an option to raise a ticket from within the app. Most VPNs that do this just ask you to type a message in a single box, but NordVPN goes much further. You can specify a topic, add screenshots, or opt to send diagnostic information, and the page helps you describe the issue clearly. It’s very well put together, and the only in-app support system we’ve seen which delivers what you’d expect from a support site.
The new app isn’t perfect in every area. We miss the old app’s resizable window, and the ability to view the map full-screen or shrink the window to save space. The icon-only Recent Connections list isn’t ideal, either. ExpressVPN uses text for its Recent list, and although that takes more space and doesn’t look as pretty, you can see at a glance exactly which location every entry represents.
Overall, though, NordVPN's latest app is a step forward. It’s easier to use and includes worthwhile new features, while still saving you a few clicks when compared to the previous version.
What settings does the NordVPN Windows app offer?
The app has some handy settings to help ensure you’re protected when necessary. You can have it automatically connect when Windows or the app starts, for example, or whenever you access an untrusted network, which is useful if you sometimes forget to do that manually.
There’s an unusual extra in an option to allow remote access to your device (via remote desktop, say) when connected to the VPN. If you never use Windows remote desktop or aren’t sure what it is, this can be safely ignored. But if you regularly use a remote desktop, it’s a real convenience and not something we've seen directly supported by other VPNs.
NordVPN's kill switch (a system to avoid data leaks if the VPN connection drops) also offers more control than most. An internet kill switch blocks all access to the net unless you're connected to the VPN, while a separate app kill switch closes particular apps if the VPN drops (your torrent app, for instance).
We tried various ways of forcibly closing the VPN, but in all cases, the client correctly blocked our internet traffic and warned us of the problem. The only small omission is that the client doesn't have an 'auto-reconnect' option, leaving users to restore their connections manually.
What encryption protocols does the NordVPN Windows app support?
Protocol support includes OpenVPN TCP and UDP, along with NordVPN's own NordLynx. The Windows app sets these automatically, and you won't even see the OpenVPN options until you turn this off (in Settings > Auto-Connect, where you disable "Choose a VPN protocol and server automatically"). Once you've figured that out, you can switch protocols with a couple of clicks.
Expert-level features include the option to set your preferred DNS for VPN connections. Switching DNS could improve browsing performance, help block access to malicious websites, or impart other benefits. Even better, you can add multiple DNS servers and switch between them as and when required.
A bonus "Obfuscated Servers" feature claims that it may help you connect even in countries and locations that block VPNs.
NordVPN's Threat Protection feature blocks malicious websites, ads and trackers. Atlas VPN, CyberGhost, Mullvad, Windscribe, and others do something similar, but NordVPN's Windows and Mac apps have an unusual extra: they can scan downloads for malware, even when you're not connected to the VPN.
Measuring Threat Protection's accuracy really needs a full review in itself, but our initial tests showed mixed results. Threat Protection detected a below-par 31.8% of 600 malicious URLs, but eliminated a reasonable 64% of our sample trackers, and managed a top-of-the-range 96% score for ad-blocking.
It's important to keep this in perspective. Although Threat Protection is far from perfect, it works hard to keep you safe, and your system will be safer for having it around. Just don't expect it to replace your regular security tool; you'll still need a specialist antivirus to keep you safe.
Put it all together, and although NordVPN's Windows client has some issues, it's generally well-presented, easy to use, and a comfortable place to view and control your VPN status. Incidentally, you might also want to check out our pick of the best Windows VPNs.
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How good is NordVPN's Mac app?
NordVPN's Mac offering has a similar interface to the Windows edition, though with more inconsistencies than we expected. Buttons and options have been moved around, the map works differently, and there are some odd variations in features. For example, the Mac has a Favorites system where Windows doesn’t, and you can still access individual servers (‘USA server #50645’) directly from the location list.
Still, although this might be confusing if you’re using both the Windows and Mac builds, it really doesn’t matter if you’re strictly Mac-only. The core of the app works well, you’re connected reasonably quickly, speeds are good and it generally serves Mac users very well.
There are some plus points, too. A Mac-only Presets feature works as a supercharged Favorites system, allowing you to combine a location and VPN settings to get the results you need.
For instance, you could create a P2P preset that connects to a specific server, with settings optimized for downloads, and automatically launches your P2P app whenever it starts. Or you could have a browsing preset, optimized for security, which enables ad and tracker-blocking and connects to your nearest location. It's a very flexible system which we've not seen anywhere else, and we hope it arrives on Windows soon.
Other parts of the app don't work as well. For instance, although there's a Favorites option, it only works with specific servers. You can't mark Atlanta as a favorite, for instance—you must choose something like "United States #5064", then hope you remember the city name.
The app Settings pane is fractionally more limited than Windows (with no split tunneling), but still gives you more than you'll see in many Mac apps: a kill switch; NordLynx, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 protocol support; auto-connect when you access untrusted Wi-Fi; and an on/off switch for NordVPN's ad, tracker and malicious site blocking.
There's a little room for improvement here, but overall, this is a likable app, mostly easy to use and with more features than most of the Mac competition.
How good is NordVPN's Android app?
The app allows you to choose locations from a world map or a text location list, letting you select countries, cities, or even individual servers by entering their name ("#8192") in the Search box.
There's no Favorites system, but you do get a Recent list to help find your most commonly-used locations. Connection times were a speedy 1-2 seconds on our test system, and we didn't see any unexpected connection drops or other stability issues.
The app doesn't have a Settings option on its main screen, and we had to tap our way through the other icons to find them. That's a little inconvenient, but it could be a plus if you want to reduce the chance of other device users changing anything important.